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Cardiff Half Marathon: A perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day

Kate Morgan (BA 2017, MA 2020) is running her first half marathon in March 2022 to raise money for Cardiff’s Neuroscience and Mental Health research. It’s not been the easiest time to train, and Kate explains what motivates her and how she’s done her best to stay on target throughout lockdowns, restrictions and delays 

Initially, I wanted to run the marathon because I knew others who were taking part and they spoke so enthusiastically about the event. I decided to join #TeamCardiff because, as an alum and a Cardiff University employee, I get to see the amazing research and work that’s happening in this area and meet some of the researchers and it’s really inspiring. It makes you want to play a part, even in a small way.  

I chose Neuroscience and Mental Health research specifically because some of my loved ones suffer with mental health problems and neurodevelopmental disorders. I have friends who work hard every day to manage their own mental health conditions and to encourage others, and they are incredibly inspiring. Mental health conditions and neurological disorders are so diverse and prevalent in society, most of us have either experienced a condition ourselves or know someone who has.  

My auntie is the main focus for my run. She was an incredibly strong and vivacious woman who, despite struggling most of her life with depression, accomplished great things. She loved learning and discovering new things, helping others and contributing something good to the world. My fundraising, by comparison, seems very small, but it’s a ‘step’ in the right direction (pun intended).  

The pandemic put a spanner in the works for lots of people in the outdoor/fitness world. And for those of us training for events, we had to reassess and adapt. I struggled many times with motivation and following a strict training plan. I run regularly but it’s not something I’ve ever described as ‘enjoyable’ so it’s a real mental and physical push to keep me on target. I also find it hard not to compare myself to others, or worse, to myself when I was younger (and fitter). Strava is great for a lot of people, but it’s not for me, and I need to focus on my own training, day by day, rather than anyone else’s. Some days, it’s an achievement just to be out the door and in my running kit!   

Lockdown helped me view running differently. It was great to get out and run somewhere and see a little bit of the world outside of my tiny front room. At first, I struggled not to have mini panic attacks on my runs, as being outside and around people was constantly described as dangerous. But it quickly made me appreciate how incredible the human body is, and how movement can be a great release for stress and anxiety and can make you feel more alive and freer than anything else. Seems somehow fitting that the very thing I was doing to raise money and awareness for mental health research, was helping my own mental health in the process.   

Like many during lockdown, I spent a lot of time alone and sometimes my runs or walks would be the only opportunity to catch a glimpse of people. There was a sense of comradery with any runner, cyclist, or walker that I passed. We may not have been able to go far, or get out more than once a day, but we would make the most of the little freedoms we had.  

Now that race day is approaching, I’m ramping up my training and setting myself achievable goals each day. I’ve just recovered from COVID-19, which meant a 10-day break from my training (so close to race day!), but for me the key is not to be hard on myself if I don’t go as fast or as far as I’d hoped. I can’t wait to cross that finish line after the delays, lockdowns and all the unknowns, and complete what I set out to do. And the icing on the cake is that it’s now on Mother’s Day, and my son will be in the crowd cheering me on. A perfect way to celebrate the day!  

 

Find out more about running the Cardiff Half Marathon as part of #TeamCardiff, raising money for Cardiff University research.